Enterprise Class CRM Overview

By Gene Teglovic
Updated: February 14, 2011

A solid Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a critical tool in any business enterprise. A successful enterprise CRM solution ensures a company’s interactions with customers and prospects remain complete, accurate, scalable and efficient.

Prior to the advent of integrated CRM software solutions, business often worked with inconsistent and outdated information. An enterprise CRM solution must solve this problem by providing CRM information from a single system. An enterprise CRM solution must provide an easily accessible “360-degree” view of customers and prospects to all organizations across the enterprise. This helps ensure CRM business processes are easy to manage and focuses organizations on common goals: increasing revenue and maintaining customer satisfaction.

To facilitate this requirement, the enterprise CRM system must easily accept converted data from other systems and integrate with existing systems (such as product inventory and financials), using common web services technologies.

Some of the more specific feature requirements of an enterprise CRM solution include:

  1. Contacts: Ability to easily create, import and maintain contact information for leads, opportunities, accounts, customers, partners, vendors, and miscellaneous contacts as needed.
  2. Sales Force Automation: Ability to manage leads, automatically convert leads into opportunities, automatically convert opportunities into accounts, and easily manage accounts.
  3. Customer Support: Ability to effectively service current customers end-to-end, with features such as case management, documented solutions, knowledge bases, and web-based customer service options.
  4. Customer and Partner Access Portals: Ability to provide controlled web-based access to customers and partners for self-service.
  5. Campaigns: Ability to create and monitor campaigns and results.
  6. Forecasts: Ability to create forecasts for visibility into sales pipelines and timely predictions of revenue and customer demand.
  7. Contracts: Ability to track and potentially maintain client contracts.
  8. Call Center Integration: Ability to integrate with inbound and outbound call activities, data and reporting.
  9. Reporting and Analytics: Ability to slice, dice and splice customer and prospect data into different views, reports and dashboards.
  10. Streamlined Customer Information: Ability to view the same summary information across multiple organizations such as marketing, sales, finance, support and administration.
  11. Easy Customization: Ability to customize the enterprise CRM solution to meet varying needs of different organizations.

On-premise and cloud-based enterprise CRM solutions both have advantages and challenges. An on-premise CRM solution allows greater flexibility in modifications; a cloud-based solution eases access issues and costs, while ensuring consistency across different components and organizations.

Once a business has decided to implement an enterprise CRM solution, the next step is to refine CRM business processes and begin to evaluate the major solution providers. 

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